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1970s

Memories of Pittsburgh TV & Radio Personalities from My Childhood

Clark.race.kdkaradio

Growing up in the Pittsburgh area in the 1960s and '70s meant that media personalities from KDKA TV/Radio, WTAE and KQV loomed very large in my young life.  (And with no cable channels back then their presence was even more ubiquitous.)  Here, in alphabetical order, are the names and faces from that era that I remember best.  (This is not intended to be a comprehensive list, just the people who made a lasting impression with me.)

 

LEE ARTHUR

She rocked the boat as Pittsburgh's first female TV sports announcer, first appearing on KDKA in 1973.  Not very knowledgeable about sports, she lasted just two years.  She died in 1989 at the age of 49.

 

Lee.arthur.kdka

JACK BOGUT

Bogut came to Pittsburgh in 1968, working for KDKA Radio.  I listened to his show as I got ready for school and still remember his creepy/comical ode to the "Slithery Dee".  He's still on the radio, now on WJAS, and I listen to his show whenever I visit my mother.  Amazingly, his voice hasn't changed.  I'm not certain about his age, but the fact that he was married in 1961 suggests he's in his early-80s.  (Update: WJAS changed to a Talk format in August 2014 and dropped Bogut.)

 

Jack.bogut.kdka

 

CHUCK BRINKMAN

The face/voice of radio station KQV during the 1960s.  He vied with KDKA's Clark Race as the city's most popular DJ.  He died in 2018 at the age of 83.

 

Chuck.brinkman.kqv

BILL BURNS

A legend, the Walter Cronkite of Pittsburgh.  He anchored the KDKA news for 36 years.  All business, Burns had a gruff, Lou Grant type persona and was the consummate professional.  He died in 1997 at the age of 84.  His daughter Patti also worked for KDKA and was very popular.  Sadly, she died of lung cancer in 2001 at the age of 49.

 

Bill.burns.kdka

BILL CARDILLE

Best known for hosting Chiller Theater and Studio Wrestling on Saturdays.  His following from Chiller Theater got "Chilly Billy" a small role in Night of the Living Dead (filmed north of Pittsburgh).  Interestingly, Cardille is the only person on my list from WIIC-Channel 11 (NBC's Pittsburgh affiliate).  Despite undergoing open-heart surgery back in the 1980s, he's still active, with a radio show on WJAS.  Amazingly, at the age of 85, his voice sounds as youthful as it was 50 years ago.  (Update: WJAS changed to a Talk format in August 2014 and dropped Cardille as well as Jack Bogut; sadly, Cardille passed away in the summer of 2016.)

 

Bill.cardille   

MYRON COPE

Cope possessed the most distinctive/abrasive voice in Pittsburgh broadcasting, if not the nation (even more so than Howard Cosell).  He was truly a motormouth, but a beloved one.  His proudest achievement was probably the creation of the "Terrible Towel" for the Steelers in the mid-1970s.  He died in 2008 at the age of 79.

Myron.cope

BILL CURRIE

Currie was the lead sports announcer for KDKA in the 1970s, coming here from North Carolina where he was known as "The Mouth of the South."  He wore garish, brightly colored sports jackets often with wild patterns.  For me he wore out his welcome rather quickly.  He died in 2008 at the age of 85.

 

Bill.currie.kdka

 

JOE DE NARDO

Pittsburgh's most famous meteorologist, De Nardo began his career with KDKA, but is best known for his long career with WTAE from 1969 to 2005.  I saw him a number of times shopping at the K-mart near his home in Moon Township.  Situated close to the airport, he groused about the planes' flight patterns that brought them over his house.  Then shortly after he moved the airport closed and relocated!  He died in the summer of 2018 at the age of 87.

 

Joe.dinardo.wtae

 

BOB KUDZMA

Although Joe De Nardo may have had a higher profile, Bob Kudzma was my favorite weatherman, serving as KDKA's on-air meteorologist for 34 years (1968-2002).  He reminded me of Pat Sajak.  I wrote to him for advice about having a career as a meteorologist and he replied.  He passed way in February 2021 at the age of 81.

 

Bob.kudzma.weatherman

 

PAUL LONG

Best known for his time as anchor on WTAE from 1969 until 1994.  He was very stern looking, even more so than Bill Burns.  Reminded me of Nikita Khruschev (and my Uncle Joe).  He died in 2002 at the age of 86.

 

Paul.long.wtae

 

NICK PERRY

Most famous for a Saturday afternoon bowling show in the 1960s on WTAE (Championship Bowling) and Bowling for Dollars in the 1970s.  (It was a proud day in our neighborhood when our neighbor from across the street appeared on the show and won $500.)  Unfortunately, his reputation was tarnished by a state lottery scandal in the 1980s.  However, since I was no longer living in Pittsburgh when it happened my memory of him is still as a bowling personality.  He died in 2003 at the age of 86.

 

Nick.perry.bowling

 

BOB PRINCE & NELLIE KING

Prince was the larger-than-life radio/TV play-by-play announcer for the Pittsburgh Pirates until 1975.  "Kiss it Good-bye!" was one of his most famous sayings.  He died in 1985 at the age of 68.  Nellie King was his mild-mannered sidekick from 1967-1975.  He died in 2010 at the age of 82.

 

Bobprince.nellieking.pittsburghpirates
Nellie King (L) & Bob Prince (R)

JIM QUINN

Popular KQV DJ in the late '60s thru early '70s, when he was in his 20s.  In the 1990s he went to the dark side and became a conservative talk-radio host.  He's now in his late 70s (as of 2020).

 

Jimquinn.kqv

CLARK RACE

Clark Race was the Dick Clark of Pittsburgh.  He was probably the market's most popular DJ, on KDKA, and also hosted a popular dance show on KDKA-TV that aired on Saturday afternoon; it ran from 1963 until 1966.  His show would begin with the intro, "Hello Clark Race, hello - and welcome to the show!", which was followed by the instrumental String of Trumpets.  He died in 1999 at the age of 66.

 

Clark.race

 

ELEANOR SCHANO

Her signature blonde coif gave her a very glamorous persona.  I remember her best for doing the weather during WTAE's evening news in the late '60s, but she was a constant TV presence with various reporting roles.  Sadly, she died from COVID-19 in November 2020 at the age of 88.

 

Eleanor schano weather lady

 

Eleanor.schano.wtae

 

ED SCHAUGHENCY

Avuncular KDKA radio personality who was lovingly called "Uncle Ed".  He had already clocked many years with the station when I listened to him give the weather report in the morning while I was getting ready for school.  Often mentioned his wife Gertrude.  I also recall that he used to promote Pappin's restaurant.  He died in 1990 at the age of 77.

 

PAUL SHANNON

Host of the children's show Adventure Time which aired weekday afternoons at 4:00 on WTAE.  He sat among the kids as Dick Clark did on American Bandstand.  Famous for the characters Nosmo King and Knish.  He'd introduce cartoons and shorts by The Three Stooges with the line, "So down goes the curtain - and back up again."  He died in 1990 at the age of 80.

 

Paul.shannon

 

DICK STOCKTON

Before he went over to the "network" side Dick Stockton was KDKA TV's sports director from 1967-1971 when he was only in his his 20s.  There was something in his demeanor that suggested that bigger things were in store for him.  He's now 77 (as of 2020).

 

Dick.stockton

 

MARIE TORRE

With her New York pedigree, she was the grand dame of Pittsburgh television.  She was with KDKA from 1962 until 1977.  In my youthful mind she and Bill Burns were the First Couple of Pittsburgh.  Her claim to fame was going to jail for 10 days for refusing to reveal one her sources when she was a newspaper reporter in New York in the 1950s.  She had a charming, sophisticated laugh that brought to mind Kitty Carlyle or Arlene Francis.  She died in 1997 at the age of 73.

 

Marie.torre.kdka

 

RICKI WERTZ

I remember her best for hosting Jr. High Quiz which aired on Sunday on WTAE from 1965-1982.  I always wanted to be on that show but our school district (Sto-Rox) wasn't chosen in the years I was in high school.  Before the quiz show she was known for hosting the Ricki & Copper Show, which starred her dog Copper.  What I remember best about the show was the Hostess cupcakes she handed out to kids in the audience who were celebrating their birthdays.  (Although this show and Adventure Time had a live studio audience of kids I never had a desire to be on either.)  She recently died (July 2021) at the age of 86 in Chicago.

 

Ricki wertz and copper

Ricki.wertz.juniorhighquiz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Remembering My First Job - As the Morning Paper Boy

Paperboy PittsburghpostgazetteNot only newspapers, but the boys and girls who deliver them, are a dying breed.  When I was in high school, between 1972 and 1975, I was a morning paper boy, delivering the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  Before I was offered the opportunity I couldn't fathom why anyone would want to get up so early in the morning to do this job.  Yet there I was getting up with my father at 5:30 as he got ready for work.  Perhaps I was motivated because my route manager, Mr. Grega, was also my geometry teacher.  (I always thought that this helped me with my grades in his class.) 

 

I had 35 customers whose homes were scattered over a six-block area; it took me about an hour to complete my route.  (About 1/4 of the houses in the neighborhood subscribed; the afternoon Pittsburgh Press was more popular.)  Each customer had a particular place they wanted their paper placed.  Some liked it inside the screen door, others under the welcome mat, or in the holder under the mailbox, or inside their milk box.  (Nowadays my mother's paper is delivered by an adult in a car and they rarely put it on her porch since they throw it from the car window.)

 

Stackofnewspaper

 

When I got to the last house on my route I hoped I had no papers left in my bag, otherwise it meant I probably forgot someone - which rarely happened.  When I returned home I'd go back to bed for an hour before getting up for school.

 

We lived in a suburban neighborhood (10 miles northwest of downtown Pittsburgh) that was surrounded by woods, but despite the early hour my parents never expressed any concerns about my safety - nor was I worried.  That's the way things were back then.  The only danger I encountered was an occasional snarling dog.  (For such encounters I carried a few rocks in the canvas bag hanging around my neck.)

 

Foggy.morning

 

For me, the worst time of year was September and October when the first cold mornings arrived.  Luckily the winters during the three years I delivered weren't severe and no mornings had sub-zero temperatures.  (After I stopped delivering, the next four winters were particularly harsh.)  The biggest snow occurred the first Monday of Dec. 1974 when 14 inches of snow fell, making it very difficult walking up my customers' sloped driveways.  And my route manager delivered the papers to me late.

 

 

Jack_frost

 

Because the papers were literally hot off the press the newsprint easily came off onto my hands and gloves.  Also, the fumes from the newsprint would cause my eyes to sting and tear, much like how pollen would do the same.  And speaking of pollen, to this day I still remember the thick scent of tree pollen that hung in the morning air in late May and June.

 

Despite having a larger circulation, the Pittsburgh Press (now defunct) didn't publish on holidays, so I had twice as many customers on those days.  I'd load the papers into my wagon rather than use my paper bag (sometimes my brother would drive me around.)  Not only were there more papers to deliver, but the papers were much thicker because of advertising inserts touting holiday sales.

 

Perhaps the most traumatic experience during my years of delivering papers occurred the morning of Jan. 1, 1973.  As I was getting ready for that morning's deliveries I turned on the radio in the kitchen and heard the shocking news that Roberto Clemente of the Pirates had been killed in a plane crash.  I walked my route in a daze.  The craziest thing that happened to me while delivering was being asked to get a crow out of a house after it had fallen down the chimney.

 

Roberto clemente death_newspaper headline

 

I delivered papers until the week before I went away to college (Penn State).  After returning from my senior prom, I went to bed for a few hours and then got up to deliver the paper.  That summer between high school and college (gap months?) I'd deliver the paper and then go to my summer job on the road maintenance crew in my town, digging ditches, weed whacking and taking trips to the local dump.

 

This was my first job.  It was a great way to learn responsibility and gain experience with money management.  Each customer paid between 60 and 75 cents each week, and I'd usually get tips that ranged between fifteen cents and a quarter (today, adjusted for inflation, that would be between 75 cents and a dollar).  I never really enjoyed collecting, which I did on Saturday afternoons, because not everyone was home so it required a number of visits.  The son of one of my customers was Tom Clements, who at the time was the starting quarterback for Notre Dame, and he occasionally answered the door when I collected.  Collecting during Christmas was better because of the tips, which were usually around five dollars. 

 

60cents

 


Remembering Hall & Oates' 1st Number One Song, "Rich Girl"

BitchI was beginning my sophomore year at Penn State when the song Rich Girl by Hall & Oates became popular.  I was taken aback that a mainstream song used the word "bitch" in it - which probably enhanced its appeal.  However, it wasn't used as a derogatory term towards women (that would come 20 years later with the advent of gangsta rap).  The song slowly climbed the charts during the fall and winter and reached the top of Billboard's Hot 100 at the end of March 1977.  It has the distinction of being the first #1 song to use the word "bitch" in its lyrics. 

 

Eltonjohn_bitchisbackI marveled that the song received air play.  It followed by three years Elton John's The Bitch is Back, which was the first top-10 song to use the word "bitch" in its title (peaking at #4).   17 years later, Stevie Nicks released a greatest hits album titled TimeSpace, which included a new song, Sometime It's a Bitch.  However, it didn't achieve nearly the popularity of The Bitch is Back, failing to crack the top 40.  And like the others, the word "bitch" wasn't referring to a woman (or a dog).

 

Rollingstones_stickyfingersBefore Elton, H&O or Stevie Nicks, the Rolling Stones released the album Sticky Fingers in 1971, and one of the songs on it was titled Bitch.  I was a teenager at the time and I remember being in the car with my parents when the song came on and I was absolutely shocked at hearing the word.  Being a somewhat sheltered kid, this was a mind-blowing experience; I was surprised my parents didn't switch stations, but perhaps they weren't listening very closely. 

 

HalloatesAfter the success of Rich Girl, Hall & Oates went through a fallow period that lasted three years.  Then in 1980 they became a true charts powerhouse, charting a dozen songs in the top 10 over the next four years.  Then it was they who became rich (boys).


Recalling Celebrity Sightings in New York City

LeonardodecaprioSubway-celebs-1 Living in New York, friends who live elsewhere often ask me about the celebrities I've seen.  This got me thinking about how many sightings I've had in the 40+ years I've lived here.  I'm sure many pass by me unrecognized because they're under hats, behind sunglasses, or I'm just not looking at faces as I go about my business.  (When I walk around my neighborhood in sunglasses during weekday afternoons I often wonder if tourists think I'm a celebrity.)  What follows is a list of nearly 80 celebs I've spotted, who I've grouped into the following categories: My Neighborhood; On the Subway; At Fire Island; At the Gym; Elsewhere in Manhattan; and Those I've Spoken To

 

- IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD (Greenwich Village) -

Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Actor) - I've probably seen him most since he lives in an apartment building across the street from me.  I've seen him walking with one of his his kids, one time on a bicycle, another time chatting on his cell phone.  The last time he was sitting outside with his family at a restaurant on Hudson St.  (This was written less than a week before his untimely death on Feb. 2 in 2014.)

 

Philipseymourhoffman.newyork

 

Matthew Broderick (Actor) I've seen him a number of times, sometimes with his son, and once (in Sept. 2019) with wife Sarah Jessica Parker as they crossed Seventh Ave. South and walked to the Sheridan Square subway station (uptown side).

Susan Sarandon (Actress/activist) - In the winter of 2013 I spotted her shopping for veggies at Citarella, wearing a kerchief and sunglasses.

Jake Gyllenhaal - I spotted him walking down Christopher St. alone at the intersection with Seventh Ave. South.  Others I've passed on this street include Johnny Galecki from the Big Bang Theory, Olympic swimming sensation Michael Phelps and, in separate sightings, SNL alums Seth Meyers and Andy Samberg.

 

Jake-gyllenhaal-night-crawler-night-reporter-02

 

Bebe Neuwirth (Actress) - Three times I've sat across from her at The Village Den restaurant on Greenwich Ave.

Emma Stone (Actress) - She turned onto 6th Ave. from West 10th St. (on the block where Citarella is) and was walking behind me and I recognized her hearty laugh.  It was winter 2012 and she was wearing a very pretty purple-colored coat that contrasted nicely with her auburn hair.  She was with a young man.

 

Emmastone

 

I've walked past John Waters, Isaac Mizrahi, Ric Ocasek and Wallace Shawn all in the vicinity of the corner of 6th Ave. and 12th St.  By coincidence, I was going to see Waters' new movie Serial Mom (spring of 1994) when I spotted him.

Aziz Ansari (Comic/actor) - He was rushing somewhere while looking at his cellphone, heading west on W.4th St. after crossing 7th Ave. South.

 

Aziz.ansari

 

Jason Sedakis (Sat. Night Live/actor) - He was walking along Bleecker St. (where he used to live).

Willem Dafoe (Actor) - Walking in front of Gourmet Garage.

Lauren Bacall (Actress) - She was shopping at Balducci's on 9th St./6th Ave (before it was bought by Citarella).

Leontyne Price (Opera singer) - Spotted just south of Bleecker St./7th Ave. South.

Everett Quinton (Off-Broadway actor) - He's probably only recognizable to a small number of New Yorkers who recognize his work with the Ridiculous Theater Company (which used to be across the street from my apartment).  I've seen him on numerous occasions walking about or having a meal at Manatus on Bleecker St.

 

Everett.quinton

 

Michael Urie (Actor) - He was walking into the CVS at the corner of 6th Ave./Washington Place.  This was in the fall of 2014 and he was finishing up his run in the one-man show Buyer Cellar at the Barrow St. Playhouse and this sighting was about an hour before the curtain.

 

Michael.urie_buyerandcellar

 

Barry Diller (Movie/TV executive) - He and a much younger man were eating next to us at Mi Cocina.  This was in the late 1990s.

Mary-Louise Parker (Actress).  I was standing behind her and her daughter in the checkout line at Gristede's.

Harvey Weinstein (Film executive) - He was attending a dance performance at the Joyce Theater.  I also saw him crossing 7th Ave. South near Charles St. heading to the restaurant Morandi.

 

Harvey.weinstein

 

Anderson Cooper (CNN News Anchor) - On time he was riding a bike, the other time coming out of the David Barton gym in Astor Place.

Tim Robbins (Actor) - In May 2002 I was standing behind him and one of his sons on the up escalator at the Village East movie complex on 3rd Ave./12th St.

Jesse Eisenberg (Actor) - The first time I saw him he was walking into the restaurant Dublin 6 on Hudson St. wearing a ski cap.  The next time he was checking out at Gourmet Garage during the time he was directing/acting in the play The Revisionist (with Vanessa Redgrave) at the Cherry Lane Theater in the Spring of 2013.

Louis CK (Comic/actor) - I was eating dinner in a Thai restaurant at the corner of Cornelia and Bleecker Streets when he walked by alone, hands in pockets.  Then during the summer of 2013 I saw him with his kids on Grove St. in Sheridan Square.

 

Louisck

 

Liv Tyler (Actress, Steven Tyler's daughter) - She was walking out of my apartment building, and I have no idea who she might have been visiting.

Mark Adsit (30 Rock) - He was strolling through the Union Square Christmas fair with his wife and child in 2012.  Then three years later I saw him, also in December, at the West Village restaurant Gaetana's (corner of Christopher/Greenwich Streets).  This time he was with a woman who may have been his mother and he was sporting a beard.

 

Mark.adsit

 

Gregory Hines (Deceased dancer/actor) - Dining with friends at an outside table at a restaurant on Hudson St.

Lee Delaria (Comedian/actress) - She was walking up 5th Ave. and was dressed like she was shooting a scene from The Hunger Games as she was wearing a long black leather trench coat with black boots and was sporting a severely cut/punk hairstyle.

 

Lee.delaria

 

Malcolm Gladwell (Author, contributor to The New Yorker) - I've seen him a number of times walking in the neighborhood.)

John Cameron Mitchell (Director/actor) - He lives on Greenwich Ave., where I've seem him a number of times.  The last time was in April 2014 when I was going to work and he was in my subway car.

 

John.cameron.mitchell

 

Kyan Douglas (Hair stylist from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy) - I was eating dinner at Bus Stop Cafe with a few friends and I spotted him there with a group of eight guys.

Parker Posey (Actress) - On a Saturday evening n Feb. 2014 she was sitting at the bar chatting with friends at Gene's, an old-school Italian restaurant on W. 11th St. that attracts a neighborhood crowd. 

Zachary Quinto (Actor) - My most recent encounter, in June 2014.  He was wearing a backwards-turned baseball cap, t-shirt and jeans and was walking his two dogs on the main path of Washington Square Park heading in the direction of Sixth Avenue.  And he wasn't wearing glasses.  

Alec Baldwin (Actor) - On the Saturday of Labor Day weekend 2016 he pedaled by on his bike in the middle of the afternoon, turning from Greenwich Ave., east onto West 10th St. heading to 6th Ave.  He may have been coming from Equinox Gym, where a friend of mine has seen him working out.

 

Alec baldwin on bicycle

 

Wynton Marsalis (Jazz Musician) - On Election Day 2016 he and one of his children were walking into my polling place at PS 41 on W.10th St. as I was leaving at around 9:30AM.  He was wearing a suit.

Kyle Mooney (SNL writer/actor) - I was walking behind him on Sixth Ave. between Waverly Place and Washington Place on a fall evening in 2017.  I've also seen him at my gym (NY Sports Club).

Andy Cohen (Bravo executive) - As I was taking a run along Hudson River Park on a warm Saturday afternoon in April 2019 I made split-second eye contact with Andy Cohen, who was sitting on a park bench with his baby, a cute dog (which is what got my attention) and a younger woman.

 

Andy-cohen-baby-benjamin

 

John Mulaney (stand-up comic) - On an unseasonably warm Saturday afternoon in November 2020 (it was the day Joe Biden was declared the winner of the presidential election) I spotted him strolling with a woman pushing a baby carriage in Hudson River Park across from Christopher St. (I assume they were his wife and child).  I wouldn't have noticed him, but when I heard his distinctive voice I looked behind me and saw him.

 

John mulaney

 

- ON THE SUBWAY -

Cherry Jones (Tony Award winning actress) - She was seated and chatting with a friend on the downtown #1 train.  Then in April 2014 I saw her entering the West 14th entrance to the #1 train on 7th Avenue.

 

Cherry.jones

 

Keith Hernandez (New York Mets) - I spotted in my car on the downtown Lexington line during mid-afternoon, standing alone.  This was years after he was Met.

Chris Parnell (Sat. Night Live) - Seated, reading a folded up piece of paper, perhaps a script.

 

Chris.parnell

 

Jack McBrayer (30 Rock) - He was waiting for the uptown Express train with friends at Times Square station late on a Saturday night.  I was heading uptown after seeing Bye Bye Birdie in the winter of 2010.

Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) - On my way to work one autumn morning in 2015 I saw him going through the turnstile at the West 4th Street subway station.  He was carrying a skateboard.  Because of his height the turnstile was at neck level.   

Norm Lewis (Actor) - Coming home from work on the 1 train downtown in the summer of 2017, I got out at 14th St. because the train was skipping my stop (Christopher St./Sheridan Sq.).  Standing next to me on the platform was Broadway actor Norm Lewis, wearing a t-shirt and shorts.  For the life of me I couldn't remember his last name and this, combined me being tired and wilted from the warm platform, kept me from telling him that I enjoyed his performance in Porgy & Bess that I saw in 2012.  We both got on the next train and he got out at my stop and then went to Starbucks in Sheridan Square.

 

Norm lewis  

 

David Muir (anchor, ABC World News Tonight) - I was on the uptown platform at the Christopher St. station on a weekday afternoon in late March 2018 when he came through the turnstile and sat down on a bench.   

Richard Kind (actor, Spin City) - On my way home from work on the evening of Sept. 25, 2018 he passed me on the stairway leading up from the subway platform at the Times Square station.

 

- AT THE GYM (Crunch/Archive Building) -

Dean Winters (The All-State 'Mayhem' guy) - Working out with a trainer.

Andrew Sullivan (Blogger/political commentator) - On another occasion I was walking behind him, his husband and dog on Bleecker St. near the now-closed Manatus restaurant.

 

Andrew.sullivan

 

Rupert Everett (Actor) - Saw him on numerous occasions in 2000 and 2001.  He usually wore a cap, white sweatshirt and blue sweatpants.

John Lutz (30 Rock/comedy writer) - A regular on the treadmill beginning two or three years ago.  Over the course of this time he slimmed down noticeably.

 

John.lutz

 

Chris Meloni (LA Law/HBO's Oz) - I stood behind him at the water fountain.

Sandra Bernhard (Comedian/actress) - I also spotted her in the checkout line at Citarella where she was dressed all in white (including a hat).

Calvin Klein (fashion designer) - This was my most recent sighting (January 2016) but it wasn't at Crunch, but at the New York Sports Club on Seventh Ave. South, which I switched to in 2013.  During a Saturday afternoon weight workout I saw him working out with a trainer.  I overheard them discussing men's briefs.  Calvin was touting the 2xist label while the trainer was raving about the H&M brand.  This sighting surprised me because I had heard CK was a member of the more exclusive Equinox gym.  After this sighting I saw him at the gym three or four other times.

 

- FIRE ISLAND -

Neil Sedaka (Composer/singer) - He was one of many guests who attended our house's annual Hat Party, in August 2003.

 

Neilsedaka

 

Sam Champion (TV weatherman) - This was in the late 1990s when he was still the local weatherman on Channel 7.  The first time I saw him he was playing in the surf with his dog.  The second time he was sashaying ever so slowly down Fire Island Boulevard with his long haired boyfriend at the time.

Jerry Mitchell (Tony Award winning choreographer) - Saw him at Sip'n Twirl during evening tea dance, summer of 2013.

 

Jerry.mitchell

 

Andy Cohen (Bravo exec/Real Housewives) - Buying cold cuts at Pines Pantry grocery store, August 2013.

David Geffen (Record executive) - He briefly owned a house at the end of the walk where my house was the was previously owned by Calvin Klein - who I also saw out there.

 

David.geffen

 

Carson Kressley (Queer Eye for the Straight Guy) - Mr. Personality, I've passed by him on Fire Island Blvd. and seen him at low tea.

 

- MANHATTAN, NORTH OF 23rd ST. -

Judd Apatow (Movie director) - During the summer of 2009 Apatow, his actress wife Leslie Mann, and their two daughters were standing behind me in the ticket line for the Titanic artifact exhibition at the Discovery Times Square Exposition Center.  And then very recently (April 2014) I saw him walking with one of his daughters along Bleecker St. near Bank Street tin the West Village.

 

Juddapatow.lesliemann

 

Brooke Shields (Actress/model) - In the early 1980s, when she was still in her teens, I saw her walking through the first floor of Bloomingdale's with her mother.  She looked very self-conscious, walking quickly, eyes downcast and biting her lip.

Ron Darling (Mets pitcher) - I was walking to work in the late 1980s when I passed by him on East 30s/Madison Ave.  He lived in Manhattan's Murray Hill neighborhood at the time.

BD Wong (Actor) - We walked past each other in the Manhattan Mall a few weeks before Christmas 2008.

 

Bdwong

 

Liz Smith (Gossip Columnist) I was having lunch on the outside terrace of El Rio Grande on Third Avenue and East 38th St. in the spring of 2008 when she walked through the tables on the way to her apartment building which was adjacent to the restaurant.

Frank Perdue (Businessman) - I rode in the elevator with him at my office building at 800 Third Ave.  His account was with the ad agency I was working for at the time in 1980 - Scali, McCabe, Sloves.

Al Franken (Comedian, US Senator) - Another elevator encounter, this time in my office building at 3 Park Ave. in 2004.  Franken was on his way to the liberal radio network, Air America.  This was before he was elected to the US Senate.

 

Alfranken

 

Buck Henry (Sat. Night Live comedy writer and actor) - He was my first celebrity siting, occurring in July 1979 as I was walking to the big post office on 3rd Ave. between 55th & 56th Streets (FDR Station) with a co-worker at lunchtime. 

Hal Linden (Barney Miller) - Like Buck Henry I spotted him on 3rd Ave. in the 50s while I was out for lunch.  This was during the Spring of 1980.

 

Hal.linden

 

- CELEBS I'VE SPOKEN TO -

Andrew Rannells (Broadway and TV actor) - This encounter was on a Friday afternoon in April 2014.  He walked into the Karavas pizza joint in Sheridan Square as I was waiting for a slice I had ordered for a late lunch.  I told him that I had just seen him perform at the Broadway Cares event, "Broadway Backwards", where he sang The Man That Got Away

 

Andrew.rannells

 

Victor Garber (Broadway, TV and movie actor)- I was going to a Wednesday matinee of Evita in August 2012 and spotted him waiting for the #1 uptown local at 14th St.  I walked over to him and told him how much I enjoyed him in Showtime's sitcom Web Therapy (in which he plays Lisa Kudrow's gay husband).  I've also seen him walking in front of Gourmet Garage. 

 

Victor_garber_webtherapy

 

Paul Schneider (Parks & Recreation/the movie The Family Stone) - I saw him on 6th Ave near my apartment as I was exiting the ATM at HSBC.  At first I didn't recognize him because his hair was long.  I told him that I was sorry he was no longer on the show and he told me that he left because his character wasn't developing the way he had hoped.

 

Paul.schneider

 

David Hodo (Construction worker character from the original Village People) - He was a guest at a brunch I attended in March 2013 on the Upper West Side.  He wasn't introduced as the construction worker, but a friend of mine took me aside and told me.

Tanner Cohen (Actor) - In 2008 he starred in a sweet gay-themed film Were the World Mine, which I saw.  Then a few months after I saw it I was walking through H&M on lower 5th Ave. when he walked into the store.  I stopped him and told him how much I enjoyed him and the movie - this was the first time I ever spoke to a celeb.

 

Tanner.cohen

 

 

 

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American Airlines Flight 191 Crashes in Chicago - Deadliest U.S. Aviation Disaster (May 25, 1979)

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May 25, 1979 was the Friday before Memorial Day weekend.  For me, it was the first paid holiday of my working life as I had begun my career in advertising just six weeks earlier (at New York ad agency Scali McCabe Sloves).  I was going out to Hicksville on Long Island to spend the holiday weekend with a friend.  As I was on my way to Penn Station after leaving the office, I saw the headlines of the New York Post and Daily News reporting a plane crash in Chicago a few hours earlier.  American Airlines Flight 191 crashed less than a minute after take-off from O'Hare Airport.  All 279 on board were killed, making it the deadliest air crash in US aviation history.

 

What made this disaster even more chilling was the fact that there were photos of the plane as it crashed and exploded.  This was less than a year after another deadly plane crash was photographed, the mid-air collision between a Southwest Pacific passenger jet and a private plane over the skies of San Diego on September 25, 1978 (pictured, below).  And in later years there were a number of crashes captured on video, e.g. the crash landing in July 1989 of United Flight 232 in Sioux City, Iowa, and the deliberate crashing of United Flight 175 into the south tower of the World Trade Center on 9-11, an event witnessed by millions on live TV.

 

PSA_crash_over_SanDiego

 

Years later I was reading an entry in Wikipedia about the singing duo McFadden & Whitehead, who were scheduled to be on Flight 191 but ended up not boarding because they were asked to stay in Chicago a few more days to promote their disco hit Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now.

 

Mcfadden and whitehead

 

Another tragedy also occurred on May 25, 1979, and it occurred in New York City.  That morning, six-year-old Etan Patz vanished while walking to school alone in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood.  He was never seen again and his disappearance hung heavily on New Yorkers for the rest of the year.  But as the 33rd anniversary of this unsolved case approached in 2012 there were indications that a resolution might finally be at hand.

 

Etan_patz_missing_poster       

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Final Episode of "Mary Tyler Moore Show" Airs (March 19, 1977)

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Before HBO, the rise of cable or the invention of the VCR/DVR, Saturday was a vibrant night of programming for the Big 3 TV networks, not an afterthought, or a repository for repeats, as it is today.  In the 1970s it was a night of classic sitcoms on CBS, and in the '80s NBC and ABC had hit shows like Golden Girls; Hunter; Love Boat; and Fantasy IslandThe Mary Tyler Moore Show was one of the crown jewels of CBS's Saturday night schedule.  Besides Mary's character, the show's other beloved characters included Mr. Grant; Ted; Murray; Sue Ann; Rhoda; Phyllis and Georgette.  The sitcom's last episode aired on March 19, 1977.  (It was curious that such a big episode was scheduled in between the February and May ratings "sweeps".)

 


MaryTylerMooreShow_Final_Episdoe Although I'd been a regular viewer of the show during its first five seasons, once I was away at college I rarely had the opportunity to watch it - but tonight was an exception.  I was in my sophomore year at Penn State, where I was attending a branch campus in Beaver County, about 25 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.  It was largely a commuter campus with one dormitory, which I lived in.  (I transferred to main campus in my junior year.)  The dorm often emptied out on weekends and this weekend, when Mary ended her seven-year run, was no different.  However, I stayed on campus and watched the episode alone in my dorm room on my roommate's little black and white set while I sat on my bed doing school work.

 

 

Mtm_cat_logo This funny episode (everyone at TV station WJM was fired except for Ted Baxter) ended with the touching group huddle pictured above.  It posted a Nielsen household rating of 25.5.  Although it wasn't a blockbuster rating like that delivered by the finales of M*A*S*H (60.2 HH rating); Cheers (45.5); or Seinfeld (41.3), it was a solid bump from its 20.5 season average.  Hats off to Mary! (Pun intended.)

 

 

 

(Oddly, the final season of Mary Tyler Moore, as of March 2013, had yet to be released on DVD).  However, if you'd like to purchase any of the first six seasons click here.)

 


"Storm of the Century" Immobilizes Eastern U.S. (March 12-13, 1993)

Snowtotals-13mar93 On Feb. 26, 1993 New York, and the nation, was shaken by the terrorist bombing in a parking garage at the World Trade Center.  Two weeks later Mother Nature was preparing her own assault as a monster storm swept up the East Coast.  I didn't pay much attention to news of the impending storm until the night before it hit, a Friday.  After work I had gone out with friends to Splash, a sprawling new gay bar in Chelsea.  Once home I turned on the Weather Channel to hear about the approaching "white hurricane".  (And the first day of Spring was just one week away).

 

The storm's full fury hit New York Saturday morning (March 13) and continued thru mid-afternoon.  (This photo, near my apartment in Greenwich Village, was taken at around noontime.)  However, after ten inches of snow had fallen a changeover to sleet and rain began in late afternoon, keeping the accumulation down.  I was outside when the changeover began and the sleet pellets really stung because they were being propelled horizontally by winds gusting between 40-60 mph.  The noise the sleet created as it lashed against the windows in my apartment was deafening.  I was concerned that my floor to ceiling living room window might blow in so I pulled down the blind.  

 

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Sheridan Square, Greenwich Village

 

 

Happily, I suffered no window damage, but after the storm subsided (at around midnight) that's when my problems started.  Hearing a dripping sound, I looked up and saw that the ceiling in one corner of my living room was cracking and buckling.  It turned out that the snow on the roof (I lived on the top floor) had piled up high enough to cover a drain pipe, so melting snow had nowhere to go and collected in one spot.  I was thankful to be home so I could move my sofa and TV out of harm's way.  However, I couldn't get in touch with my building super so I had to make due with a collection of pots and pans to collect the dripping water.  However, the steady "ping" of the dripping made sleep nearly impossible. 

 

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The next morning I got up early and found the super shoveling snow.  He was unable to go up on the roof and clear the blockage because snow was drifted against the door so he brought up two large trash bins to my apartment to collect the water which poured out when he poked a few holes in my ceiling.

 

Compared to other parts of the Eastern US New York was spared paralyzing amounts of snow (a nearby street in my neighborhood is pictured).  Elsewhere, however, there were record accumulations not only in the Northeast (Pittsburgh had 26", Syracuse 36") but in the South as well, e.g., Atlanta had 9"; Birmingham 13"; Chattanooga 23".  Even Mobile, Alabama on the Gulf Coast, reported three inches of snow!  The Weather Channel would later rank the storm, which affected nearly half of the US population and left more than 250 dead, as one of the top five weather events of the entire 20th century. 

 

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Waverly Place (March 14, 1993)

 

If you'd like to read about other New York City snowstorms I've written a post on my weather blog, New York Weather Archive, that recaps the snowstorms we've experienced since 1970.  To go to it please double click here.  And on this blog I've written posts on four other famous NYC snowstorms:  

The Lindsay Snowstorm (Feb. 1969)

Blizzard of '96 Brings New York & Mid-Atlantic to a Halt (Jan. 1996)

New York's Biggest Snowfall of All Time (Feb. 2006)

April Blizzard Stops New York, Puts Spring on Hold (April 1982)

 

Finally, snowstorm lovers may find the book Northeast Snowstorms by The Weather Channel's winter storm expert Paul Kocin of great interest.

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Growing up in the 1960s & 1970s - Living in Primitive Times

DarkAgesThose of us born in the generation that came before the introduction of today's whiz-bang gadgets may appreciate them the most since we know what it was like to have "suffered" the various inconveniences of life without them.  However, today's advances aren't always viewed as enhancements.  With that in mind, the following list offers younger readers a glimpse of what life was like back in the Dark Ages of the 1960s and 1970s:

 

  • Pringles, Cheerios, Oreos, M&Ms, Ocean Spray cranberry juice and French's mustard had just one variety - and drinking water wasn't filtered by Brita, it came directly from the tap.
  • Major League Baseball often scheduled doubleheaders on Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day.  And the World Series was played in the afternoon.  Additionally, in the years before the first energy crisis in 1974, night games started at 8:05 not 7:05.

 

Daytime_worldseries

 

  • When the phone rang you answered it without knowing who was calling - at home or work.  And your pointer finger got regular exercise from dialing the telephone.  Additionally, long distance calls were considered a luxury because of their expense.
  • Before violent video games, the most raucous game was Rock'em Sock'em Robots.

 

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  • Baggies were an advance in storage.  There was no such thing as Ziploc anything. 
  • When the weekend approached you'd go to the bank and estimate how much spending money you'd need to withdrawal.  Unless you kept money under your mattress.  And you stood in line inside the bank for all banking transactions.
  • Bottles and containers were a cinch to open since they weren't designed to be child-resistant or tamper-proof.
  • Guests on the Tonight Show stayed put when other guests came on.

 

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  • There were no signers for the deaf at public events/news conferences.
  • Fireworks exhibitions happened only on the 4th of July.  (And sometimes when your neighbors had a fight.)  Jellybeans and marshmallow peeps were sold only at Easter time.
  • Going to church, school or Broadway shows were all "dress up" occasions.  And sneakers and flip-flops were worn only during gym class, play time or vacation.

 

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  • Diet soda tasted like a witch's brew of chemicals. (Here's to the advanced chemical formulas of the 21st century that made Coke Zero possible!)  
  • Dentists/dental hygienists didn't wear masks, cashiers didn't wear protective gloves.  There was no such thing as hand sanitizer and yet we somehow survived.

 

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  • If a classmate met with "misfortune" no therapists were called in, you went to school the next day just like any other day.
  • Neopolitan was about as gourmet an ice cream flavor you could get.  And before Starbucks there was was only General Foods International Coffee.

 

Neopolitan

 

  • Morning paper boys went out before sunrise by foot and their parents didn't worry (except, perhaps, about the occasional ferocious dog).
  • You either turned a room light off or on, there was no dimmer switch (or ambient lighting).
  • To do school work students thumbed through an encyclopedia rather than Wikipedia and never doubted the verity of the information it contained. 

 

Worldbook

 

  • During snowstorms ashes were tossed onto roads from the back of dump trucks.
  • Adults knew that Liberace, Charles Nelson Reilly and Paul Lynde were "funny" but it wasn't mentioned in front of the children.

 

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  • Instant potatoes were a time-saving advance in dinner preparation.  And Pop Tarts were an advance in breakfast food.

 

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  • Suburban households sorted their trash and then openly burned what was made of paper.     
  • When taking a trip you unfolded an unwieldy paper document called a "map".
  • People who suffered from allergies were alergic only to tree pollen or ragweed - no one knew they were lactose intolerant or allergic to wheat.

 

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  • Divorce?  What was that?
  • In the winter and summer you went outside without the benefit of a wind chill factor or heat index.
  • There was no such thing as a bike helmet.
  • In anticipation of winter, two rituals for my dad in October and November were putting up storm windows on the house and putting snow tires on the family car.

 

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"All in the Family" Debuts, Changes Primetime Forever (January 12, 1971)

All_in_the_family I was suffering from a bad cold the night All in the Family debuted on CBS.  For much of the show I was in the kitchen making hot tea with honey and preparing a somewhat flammable throat wrap coated with Vicks VapoRub which I heated over one of the burners of the stove.  Because of these preparations I wasn't paying full attention to the program.  However, I do remember the warning that came on before the show began about its content.  Although I was 13 at the time I didn't worry about my parents changing the channel since Tuesday was my mother's bowling night and dad was dozing in his recliner.  

 

All_in_the_family.tvguide During its first season All in the Family aired on Tuesday but in its second season the show moved to Saturday where it ran for four seasons.  It was part of Saturday's legendary lineup along with The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Bob Newhart and Carol Burnett.  Some lasting memories I have include Edith going through menopause (a new concept for me) and hearing Archie refer to blacks as "jungle bunnies" (also a first).  I watched the show regularly during its first four seasons but that ended once I went away to college.  However, this spared me the pain of watching the episode in which Edith died.

 

 

The show ushered in a new era in TV in which controversial and political subject matter was addressed.  And viewers embraced it - All in the Family became the first TV show to be #1 in the ratings for five consecutive seasons (later joined by Cosby and American Idol).  It also begat Maude and The Jeffersons.  Indeed, those were the days! 


The "Immaculate Reception" of Franco Harris (December 23, 1972)

Until 1972 my hometown Pittsburgh Steelers had a long history of losing.  This season, however, they finished with a solid winning record (11-3) and made it to the playoffs.  On Saturday, Dec. 23 the Oakland Raiders were in Pittsburgh playing the Steelers in the AFC Divisional Playoffs.  That afternoon, while the game was being played, I was out collecting payment from customers of my morning paper route (the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).  Since it was Christmas, instead of the usual 25 or 50 cent tips, I was collecting tips in the stratospheric $2 to $5 range.

 

Franco_harris_immaculate_reception 

 

When I returned home the game was on the radio, and it didn't look good as the Raiders had a 7-6 lead very late in the game.  Then in a flash the tables were turned as a pass by Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw bounced off the intended receiver and landed in the hands of Steelers rookie (and NFL Rookie of the Year) Franco Harris just before it reached the ground.  He scooped it up and scooted 60 yards for the game winning touchdown with less than 20 seconds remaining.  However, it took five minutes before Harris' catch was confirmed by officials as a legitimate reception.  It was even more confusing if you weren't watching on TV as was our case since the game was blacked out in Pittsburgh. 

 

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Pittsburghsteelers_book Even today it seems unbelievable that this catch happened.  And although the Steelers season ended the following week, when they lost to the undefeated Miami Dolphins, it was the beginning of the Steelers becoming one of the most successful and widely followed teams in the nation.  (To immerse yourself fully in "Steelers Nation" lore the book The Good, The Bad & The Ugly Pittsburgh Steelers is a good starting point.)